Amir is the narrator of the novel, and he tells the main events of the story from a point in the future. He is born into a wealthy Pashtun family in Kabul, Afghanistan, and his mother dies in childbirth, leaving his father, Baba, to raise him. Amir has a difficult relationship with Baba due to their different personalities. Amir is closest to Hassan, his servant, and while they are as connected as brothers Amir does not consider Hassan his friend due to their different ethnicities and social classes. Amir can be jealous, tentative, and cruel, but he also endures a great deal of guilt surrounding his decisions.
Hassan is the son of Ali, the servant of Baba and Amir's household. He grew up alongside Amir, and he is loyal and steadfast to him, considering him a true friend. He is born with a deformity, a harelip, which Baba pays to have fixed when he is older. The fact that he is part of an ethnic minority, the Hazara, as well as a Shi'ite Muslim places him in a lower social class. Hassan is uneducated and illiterate, but he enjoys hearing Amir read out loud and encourages him to pursue writing. Hassan is a defender of Amir, standing up to his bullies and enduring great physical and psychological trauma on his behalf. That trauma causes a great change in Hassan, as well as in his relationship with Amir.
Baba is Amir's father, a wealthy and independent businessman. He is imposing and intimidating, and he worries that Amir is nothing like him. Although he is a Sunni Muslim his views are liberal, and he has disdain for more conservative forms of his faith.
Ali is Hassan's father, and he is Baba's main servant. He is also an ethnic Hazara and Shi'ite Muslim, which places him in a lower social class. He also has a physical deformity that causes neighborhood children to taunt him. He and Hassan have a close relationship, which incurs much jealousy from Amir. Like Hassan he is kind and loyal.
Rahim is Baba's closest friend, and he also serves as a father figure to Amir, who has a difficult relationship with Baba. Rahim often defends Amir to Baba, and he also encourages Amir to become a writer, which has a profound impact on Amir. Rahim also encourages Amir to return to Kabul to rescue Hassan's son, Sohrab.
The antagonist of the book, Assef is a fundamental Muslim who believes that all Hazaras should be eradicated from Afghanistan. He taunts both Amir and Hassan, and ultimately he corners Hassan in an alleyway and rapes him. He becomes an official in the Taliban and takes Hassan's son from an orphanage.
Soraya becomes Amir's wife after he and Baba move to California. Unable to have children, she is instrumental in helping arrange Sohrab's adoption.
Sohrab is the son of Hassan and his wife, Farzana. After the death of his parents he is left in an orphanage and taken by his father's rapist, Assef. Amir returns to Kabul to find him and take him back to California. Traumatized by the atrocities he has witnessed, Sohrab tries to take his own life, but he tentatively begins to bond with Amir.